AAA Self Storage in Longmont, Colo., is open again after more than a month of clean-up from flood damage that swept through the facility and parts of the state in September. Although the property is not in the flood plain, the 17-building, 465-unit facility was flooded with as little as an inch and up to a foot of water, depending on the building.
"We had a geologist who stored his stuff here, and he said, 'I specifically checked the maps before I put my stuff in here, and you guys weren't even in the 500-year flood plain,’" said Bill Harper, who owns the facility with his wife, Elizabeth.
In addition to the facility damage, the flood forced the evacuation of manager Michelle White, who lives on site. "I barely made it out of here [on Sept. 12] when they called me for a mandatory evacuation," White said. "The water was about up to my wheel wells on my SUV." Her facility residence did not sustain damage.
Self-storage customers were not so lucky. Harper said tenants who could get to Longmont salvaged what they could, but several renters lived outside the state, including some internationally. Although the business requires tenants to check a box on their rental agreement indicating they either have or will obtain insurance, Harper said he knew of only a couple of customers who had sufficient insurance.
The business also was not insured for flooding, since it was not technically in the flood plain. "If it would have been a tornado or a fire or anything else, we would have been covered," Harper said.
To clean up the facility and get it back to rentable shape, Harper said he was advised by the national Self Storage Association to remove all contents from units so spaces could be cleaned and sanitized. “It was a health and safety deal,” he said.
Although AAA was nearly 100 percent occupied at the time of the flood, Harper said only a few dozen tenants have returned since re-opening last week. Storage West Self Storage located next door to AAA sustained worse damage and remains closed, according to the source.